Mar 212009

This clip is a good demonstration of the Musician Proximity Effect (MPE), where musicians who have plenty of room onstage periodically move closer to one another, intensifying their facial expressions and deriving more power to Rock from temporary nearness to one of their bandmates.

The Effect is most powerful when two players, usually guitarists and/or bassists, actually lean against one another back to back, shoulder to shoulder being slightly less powerful. Rocking while simultaneously being involved in male-on-male physical contact is tricky but achievable with the introduction of varying amounts of humor and/or irony.

The increased ability to Rock provided by the MPE lasts even after the musicians disengage, though it is not permanent and may need to be replenished by additional bouts of proximity.

The attempted use of the Effect by more than two musicians at a time, or by direct instrument-to-instrument contact, (cf. Blue Oyster Cult) is risky and not advised or endorsed by Rock Town Hall.


  12 Responses to “The Musician Proximity Effect”

  1. saturnismine

    The attempted use of the Effect by more than two musicians at a time…

    …may result in Iwo Jima posing.

    check out this bad co youtube (which ties together a few threads…):

    Paul rogers isn’t even PLAYING that thing. One could argue that he carries a guitar simply to invoke the MPE!!

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    Excellent glossary entry, BigSteve — thanks for your service to the Hall.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Fantastic supporting material, Sat. I love how tentative these three are in approaching MPE. Thank goodness for the three “hot chicks” cheering them on – “Come on, guys, bring it in! We’re, like, totally into seeing three musicians rub up against each other!” Also, although Rodgers briefly holsters his guitar about a minute and a half into this performance, never has there been a better argument for a lead singer to holster his guitar sooner and for a longer stretch in a song. Until the soloing sections, it was really hard to tell if Rodgers even knew how to play the guitar. I thought he was just pretending to strum it.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Check out the bass playing in that Bad Co. clip, round about 3:06, and compare with Friend-of-RTH Hartman from the Edgar Winter vuh-deo. Hartman grooves and swings, giving us just a taste of “pigeon bob” head action, coupled with enough “bounce-n-bop” in the legs to create a manly sashay-in-place. The Bad Co. dude just looks like he’s dropping a load in his pants.

  5. BigSteve

    There’s some serious Mandom in the BadCo clip. And it’s almost like the three of them know to hover around each other closely, but not too closely, lest they succumb to MPE implosion. Humorlessness was a hallmark of BadCo, and irony was verboten, so they dare not touch.

    The brief holstering is masterful. It does not disturb the testosterone-poisoned plod of the song, saying simply “Worship my tanktop-clad torso, and I will rock you.”

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Funny you should mention the bass player, Hrrundi. I kept thinking that I should be thinking how much better that performance would have been with Andy Fraser on bass.

  7. BigSteve

    Curse you, saturn, I Can’t Get Enough of This Clip. Dig the ‘everyone must rock’ gesture at around 2:37. And Rodgers is doing some serious mane-shaking throughout. He may have a weave now, but, when he had it, his hair, as Warren Zevon might say, was perfect.

    At first I thought that was Dudley Moore at the beginning doing the introduction. That was Moonie? Damn.

  8. Great clip BigSteve! and nice write up and follow-on commentary with Bad Co. on MPE.

    Getting back to the original clip – I was struck by several other things:

    1. As a drummer I always dug this tune but never really knew that the fellow used what might be described today as an “indie-rock” kit. While the song suggests a mammoth 8 tom-tom mega kit, the guy gets it done with just a rack and floor. (with Edgar’s help of course)

    2. Edgar was out using the strap-on keys before Keytars? I never knew. Was he one of the first? Is an “RTH Advance Studies Course” in the making here?

    3. Is that Ronnie Montrose on guitar? Or Dan Hartman?

    4. Was the Color-Key video effect added to the video by the YouTube poster or was that the broadcasted effect? It struck me that this long instrumental song is actually pretty boring in a way and that this effect was a pretty lame way to add “excitement”.

  9. BigSteve

    This glossary entry, mrclean, is an off-shoot of a thread from yesterday called What’s Really Weird About This Video? There’s more commentary there about other features of the Frankenstein clip. Check it out.

  10. The whole of the stringed, reed, & hand-held percussion wielding members of Bruce & The E Street Band should be hauled in on charges of severe abuse of The MPE, & gross negligence in breaking the “no more than two at a time” clause, as anyone who has witnessed their flagrant on-stage cluster fucks can attest. In all seriousness, someone’s gonna get hurt one of these days. It’s like a rugby scrum up there at times.

  11. I am anxious to see a guitar-bass “joust” with necks actually striking each other until the “stronger” axe prevails a la Mork’s battle with the Fonz’ thumb.

  12. an albino, my libido

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